CHICAGO – Ben Zobrist boasted about how Nick Castellanos handles his pre-election routine during extraction training. The veteran man who describes how Castellanos poured a different mentality and energy into the Cubs club house targeting October.
While Zobrist talks to
As Zobrist spoke with a group of reporters after the Cubs 6-1
• Box Result
"My bad guys," Castellanos said.
"He's right there," Zobrist said with a smile. "I'm talking about you right now."
There's been a lot of talk about what Castellanos has done to the Cubans since he came from the Tigers through trading on the July 31 deadline. He is undoubtedly the engine of Chicago's lineup. Castellanos was back on Tuesday with a three-way homer, but tonight wasn't just about the newest cult character in the North Siders.
No, tonight was for the multitude of energy sources that the Cubes hope to help power up in September.
The evening included the return of Zobrist to the starting line-up and a spot for lead after a near four-month hiatus. He saw a bunch of piles, lit two rallies and set the tone at the top of the order. The night also included the return of hunter
"That shook me," Contreras said. "That was a special moment for me."
The cherry on top was a mammoth collar by
All this happened on a day when the cubes were without Chris Bryant (a late scratch due to a right knee problem) and Javier Baez (out with a stuck left thumb). And that supported six innings by
"It just speaks to how talented this clubhouse is from the top down," Castellanos said, "If somebody came out, somebody else intervened. "
When Zobrist enters the box of dough in the first inning – marking his first bat for the cubes since May 6, because of the time he is too far away to be drawn to personal matter – the Wrigley Field crowd offered him a standing ovation standing ovation. He came out quickly, but got together and went back to work, not wanting to do more than the scene.
"It was warm, it was nice," Zobrist said. "But I was trying to keep up with the bat and keep going. I have to get past that moment and just focus on the team."
Cubes have missed his professional approach to the top. During the offseason, Chicago entered Tuesday with .282 percent on base and 70 wRC + from the lead. Against Seattle, Zobrist showed why manager Joe Madden appreciates the way he goes, forcing steels into the strike zone – a feature that the Cubs lack overall.
Zobrist saw six landings in his first bat and then seven more in a third-inning walk that later led to the flight of a fly from Castellanos. Fifth, Zobrist performed a perfectly placed bunt single to third base. Two tests later, Castellanos snapped a step from reliever Wade LeBlanc in the center-right seat for his three-shot.
"The bats are good. The focus was great," Madden tells Zobrist. "He was very impatient before the game in a good way. It was nice to see him. It's nice to see this bat at the top of the batting order – patience, taking a walk, etc."
Contreras offered a perfect summary of what the return of Zobrist means to the Cubs.
"He is a role model – a role model you must follow," says the All-Star hunter. "To me, he's a huge example to look for. He will help us a lot by just watching him go through [routine] how professional he is. He's just incredible."
Like Zobrist, Contreras was also enthusiastic about the energy Castellanos had brought into the room and into the field. Consider the Cubs putting a .252 / .325 / .460 as their team in August, but those percentages are down. 239 / .317 / .425, if you remove all production from the Castellanos bat that was baked in these
Discussing Castellanos before the match, Contreras stated that he planned to "back his fire" down. The hunter is also proud of being a candle for the cubes. And Baez – after rejoining the fold – offers almost the same infectious intensity.
Given what is on the line for the Cubes, Madden hopes all of this will breathe more life into a crime that can make or break the team's October aspirations.
"We have to be ready. They are all energetic players," the manager said. "This is what we need. I was talking about [how] September providing our own energy. Listen, we're in a race. There's no reason to show up and not feel that way, but these are the guys."  Jordan Bastian covers the cubes for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Rays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Bastian Major League and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian .